Saturday, June 20, 2009

ISBNPA 2009 keynote debate: industry sponsorship of scientific societies and scientific research

The closing session of ISBNPA 2009 was the keynote debate. This year Professors Willem van Mechelen of EMGO+ at the VU University Medical Center and David Crawford of C-PAN, Deakin University, Australia debated about industry sponsorship of behavioral nutrition and physical activity research/research society. David Crawford argued against and Willem van Mechelen argued in favour. Professor Knut Inge Klepp of the department of nutrition of University of Oslo chaired the session.
After an introduction by Klepp stating the importantce and relevance of this issue, Van Mechelen started his argument by playing 'The times they are a changing' by Bob Dylan and a hylarious introduction including a reference to Aussie style football; Crawford with a picture of Van Mechelen as a clown. But after that, things got serious. Van Mechelen pointed out that without industry sponsorship we would have far less scientific research, and thus less scientific progress. Basically, he argued that scientists cannot accomplish their goals and cannot meet their performance indicators if they are too restrictive in accepting funding for research. He showed that, with some exceptions, governments in general and the Dutch government in particular are not willing to invest enough in scientific research to help evidence-based practice to progress. He further argued that as long as the process is transparent and the sponsored research is methodological sound, and the right rules regarding the data, scietific independence, disclosure and publications are set, with no publication restrictions, the risks of bias because of industry sponsoring is very low.
Crawford argued that and showed that there is evidence that industry sponsorhips can bias research results, citing, amongst others, Lesser et al's 2007 publication in Plos Medicine. He also argued that perceptions matter: sponsorship by industry may make a scientific society or a sponsored study less credible, among fellow scientists, reviewers, stakeholders as well as the broader community. David's third argument was that industry sponsorhip is no longer common; tobacco industry sponsorship of research is nowadays unheard of, and there is a growing movement against pharmaceutical industry sponsorship. David agreed with Willem that intercation with industry is important, but this should be without financial ties. Basically, David Crawford argued that the cons for accepting industry sponsorship for ISBNPA outweigh the pros.
By the way, in the preparation of the ISBNPA 2009 meeting, the Executive Committee of ISBNPA decided to not accept sponsorship from a large softdrink company for support of the society. ISBNPA 2009 was supported by non-commercial sponsors only.

Prof. Ken Resnicow argues in favour of embracing complexity and chaos theory in behavioral nutrition and physical activity

Today at ISBNPA 2009, professor Ken Resnicow gave his key note address: Moving beyond linear models of behavior change; embracing complexity and chaos.
His key note was very thought provoking. He argued that that the behavioral nutrition and physical activity field has been guided by a cognitive, rationale paradigm, described in health behavior models and theories such as the Theory of Planned Behavior, Social Cognitive Theory, and the Trans Theoretical Model.
Dr. Resnocow claimed and presented preliminary evidence that we may need a paradigm shift to move the field forward, a shift towards embracing chaos theory and complex dynamic systems in our field. Key principles from these perspectives described by Dr. Resnicow are:
1. Behavior change is often quantum rather than linear
2. Behavior change is a chaotic process that is highly variable and difficult to predict
3. Behavior change is a complex dynamic system that involves multiple component parts that interact in a non-linear way
4. Behavior change is sensitive to initial conditions
Dr. Resnicow has published his line of thinking in two published papers, one in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical activity, and one in the American Journal of Public Health. Click here for the IJBNPA paper and here for a reaction by Tom Baranowski and here for one by myself. The reference to the more recent paper by Resnicow in AJPH can be found here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ISBNPA 2009 will start today

This evening the annual meeting of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity will start with an opening reception and a keynote lecture Shiriki Kumanyika. ISBNPA 2009 is at a great venue in Cascais, near Lisbon, Portugal. Today four different preconference workshops are ongoing on Introducing Intervention Mapping, conceptualising and measuring the build environment, early career mentoring, and on the role of advocacy in behavioral nutrition and physical activity.
The 2009 annual meeting will set another record; more than 600 delegates will be in Cascais to be informed and discuss the latest research in behavioral nutrition and physical activity. The local organising committee chaired by Pedro Teixeira, and the program committee chaired by the incoming president, Stuart Biddle have done a fantastic job.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nicole Vogelzangs wins the annual publication price from the Netherlands Epidemiology Society at the annual WEON meeting in Amsterdam.

EMGO+ congratulates Nicole Vogelzangs with winning the annual publication price from the Netherlands Epidemiology Society. Nicole, who is completing her PhD within the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research at the department of psychiatry, received the price for her paper ‘Depressive symptoms and change in abdominal obesity in older persons’, published in Archives of General Psychiatry.

WEON, the annual meeting of the Netherlands Epidemiology Society

On Thursday June 11 and Friday June 12 the Netherlands Epidemiology Society held its annual meeting (WEON) at the congress center the Meervaart in Amsterdam. The EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research organised this year’s annual meeting. An organisation committee chaired by Dr. Caroline Terwee took care of the organisation. The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development and the Netherlands Cancer Society supported the WEON.
Caroline Terwee and her team decided to organise the program according to methodological issues instead of according to major diseases or health issues. Epidemiology encompasses a very multidisciplinary spectrum of contents, covering topics that can be organised according to disease (e.g. cardiovascular disease epidemiology, cancer epidemiology, infectious disease epidemiology, etc.) or according to risk factor (nutrition epidemiology) or according to setting (e.g. clinical epidemiology, social epidemiology), but it is the common methodology that units epidemiologists. This year’s WEON kicked off with a key note lecture by Dr. Dennis Revicki who informed us about the PROMIS project, with a strong focus on Item Response Theory as a means to realise efficient, and if necessary, tailored measurement in health surveys. The second part of the plenary opening session was a keynote debate between professors Jan Vandenbroucke (University Medical Center Leiden) and Bart Koes (Erasmus University Medical Center) about the merits and problems regarding the use of RCT research and observational research in striving towards evidence-based practice. Vandenbroucke argued that RCT’s are the gold standard for evaluation of therapy research, but are of much less (no?) use in discovery and explanation research, where observational designs are the way forward.
The 2009 WEON ended on Friday afternoon with two other key note debates, chaired by Dr. Lex Burdorf, on biological vs. statistical interaction (between Drs. Friedo Dekker and Mirjam Knol) and on the use and nonsense of power analyses (between profs. Jos Twisk and Martijn Berger). In between these two plenary sessions more than 90 posters and 60 orals were presented on themes such as validity of measurement instruments, screening research, diagnostic tests, prediction research, design issues, etc.